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Monday, March 24, 2014

Morning Prayer: The Way, The Truth and The Life

Back in 2007, I posted the words of a Morning Prayer of my own devising. I thought it time to bring it once more to the forefront on this Monday of Week 3 of Lent, 2014.  ~~~~~

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 14:5,6

Lord Jesus Christ
You are The Way, The Truth and The Life.

You are The Way.
Guide me.
Plant my feet firmly in your path
That I may not deviate either to left or to right
But follow you closely:
Just an arm's length away that I might touch the hem of your garment:
Within earshot that I might hear your word and your will for my life.

You are The Truth
Teach me, Guide me, Illuminate me.
Teach me to worship you in Spirit.
Teach me to worship you in Truth.
So grace me and discipline me, Lord,
That I may exhibit your Truth and Your Spirit
In my daily walk.

You are The Life
The Life given for me on Calvary
Grant that I might not live
But that you might live in me
Dreaming your dreams through me
Tasting, touching, sensing, the world
Through me.

Come, Lord Jesus, come in glory.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lives given for others : Stations of the Cross - Of gods and men

Last evening about a dozen or so people gathered in Saint Paul's Anglican Church in Ballarat at 5.30 pm for a Lenten evening.

We began with the ancient Christian meditation on the last hours of Jesus, The Stations of the Cross.  Last night, the experience had added flavour. As well as the traditional form of meditation, the words of Julian of Norwich were added.  These words come from her visions recorded in Revelations of Divine Love.  This way of 'doing' The Stations was most helpful and enlarging. Picture at left from here.

After The Stations, we had a shared meal at The Parish Centre followed by a movie.

The movie was something very special - Of gods and men

The movie is based on the events leading up to and surrounding the deaths of seven Trappist monks, men of the Cistercian order, in Algeria in 1996.  These men were of the same religious order as the well-known Thomas Merton.  The film is beautiful, reflective, much awarded and should be accompanied by a box of tissues.  For a taste, please watch the trailer below.

The various characters depicted were interesting - but none more so than the leader of this little band of men living in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains, Christian de Cherge. Christian's leadership and legacy demonstrate the kinship that can be found among the people called Christians and the people called Muslims.  

In the movie, we see - without explanation - Christian writing a letter and putting it in an envelope and sitting it on his desk.  This was duly found following his capture and death and is known as his "Last Testament".......

Taken from First Things -

If it should happen one day—and it could be today—that I become a victim of the terrorism which now seems ready to encompass all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church, my family, to remember that my life was given to God and to this country. I ask them to accept that the One Master of all life was not a stranger to this brutal departure. I ask them to pray for me: for how could I be found worthy of such an offering? I ask them to be able to associate such a death with the many other deaths that were just as violent, but forgotten through indifference and anonymity.

My life has no more value than any other. Nor any less value. In any case, it has not the innocence of childhood. I have lived long enough to know that I share in the evil which seems, alas, to prevail in the world, even in that which would strike me blindly. I should like, when the time comes, to have a clear space which would allow me to beg forgiveness of God and of all my fellow human beings, and at the same time to forgive with all my heart the one who would strike me down.

I could not desire such a death. It seems to me important to state this. I do not see, in fact, how I could rejoice if this people I love were to be accused indiscriminately of my murder. It would be to pay too dearly for what will, perhaps, be called “the grace of martyrdom,” to owe it to an Algerian, whoever he may be, especially if he says he is acting in fidelity to what he believes to be Islam. I know the scorn with which Algerians as a whole can be regarded. I know also the caricature of Islam which a certain kind of Islamism encourages. It is too easy to give oneself a good conscience by identifying this religious way with the fundamentalist ideologies of the extremists. For me, Algeria and Islam are something different; they are a body and a soul. I have proclaimed this often enough, I believe, in the sure knowledge of what I have received in Algeria, in the respect of believing Muslims”finding there so often that true strand of the Gospel I learned at my mother’s knee, my very first Church.

My death, clearly, will appear to justify those who hastily judged me naive or idealistic: “Let him tell us now what he thinks of it!” But these people must realize that my most avid curiosity will then be satisfied. This is what I shall be able to do, if God wills”immerse my gaze in that of the Father, to contemplate with him his children of Islam just as he sees them, all shining with the glory of Christ, the fruit of his Passion, filled with the Gift of the Spirit, whose secret joy will always be to establish communion and to refashion the likeness, delighting in the differences.

For this life given up, totally mine and totally theirs, I thank God who seems to have wished it entirely for the sake of that joy in everything and in spite of everything. In this “thank you,” which is said for everything in my life from now on, I certainly include you, friends of yesterday and today, and you my friends of this place, along with my mother and father, my brothers and sisters and their families the hundredfold granted as was promised!

And you also, the friend of my final moment, who would not be aware of what you were doing. Yes, for you also I wish this “thank you”—and this adieu—to commend you to the God whose face I see in yours.

And may we find each other, happy “good thieves,” in Paradise, if it pleases God, the Father of us both. Amen.
Translated by the Monks of Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, Leicester, England.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Crafting a spirit

Anna Quindlen’s Short Guide to a Happy Life, a soul-uplifting must-read in its entirety:

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Prince of Peace! Why not a Minister for Peace?

The picture below has come from Geraldine Robertson

Women's Web - Women's Stories, Women's Actions 
Women Working Together suffrage and onwards
Prejudice and Reason

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Thought for the week ahead - from Julian of Norwich

The Lord wishes it that our prayer and our trust be large!
We must know unreservedly 
that our Lord is the ground from which our prayer grows.
This is a gift given in love.

God wants us to understand 
that we are more truly in heaven than on earth…

We are of God.

That is what we are…
God did not have to begin to love us ~~~~
because from the beginning we have always been known and loved…
Gratitude appreciates who we really are.
Our thanking is to enjoy God!’


Saturday, March 15, 2014

PRAYERS FOR OUR WORLD with acknowledgment to Stephanie Dowrick



Let us pray for peace of mind and healing of hearts, wherever that is needed.
Let’s pray especially for those in our world who are feeling lost or abandoned; homeless or isolated:
We can be with them

Let’s pray for those in the world who are suffering from religious prejudice or violence;
For refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island:
We can be with them
Let’s pray for the children of our world who lack safekeeping, especially those orphaned because of natural and human disasters:
We can be with them

Let’s pray for all in our world in need of respect, safety, dignity and justice:
We can be with them

Let’s pray for those in our world who are grieving...those missing from the Malaysian Airlines tragedy and their families... who are enduring physical or mental pain...who are facing or enduring losses:
We can be with them

Let’s pray for all the sick in our community...
We can be with them
Let’s pray for the peacemakers of our world, the healers and the joyful ones, those who ease our lives and make them lighter, more glorious and more meaningful:
We can be with them

Let’s pray for all those who will come into our world to-day ... and all those who will leave it:
We can be with them

Let’s pray for our own selves ... our families ... our parishes ... our diocese ... our Bishop ... the small and large communities of which we are part ... for our whole human family.
We can be with them

Finally, let’s pray for those spiritual guides, especially Sheila Upjohn, and those teachers whose words, loving-kindness and example allow us to find our way:
We can be with them

In Silence let’s offer the prayers of our hearts and minds ...

Step by Step - otherwise known as Child of My Love - by Frank J Exley

This poem was made to those present at the
'A Life of Prayer' event at St Paul's Bakery Hill 
by Sheila Upjoh

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Life of Prayer featuring Sheila Upjohn - the second day Saturday 15 March. All Welcome!

Further to previous posts here and here relating to the event at Saint Paul's Ballarat concerning Julian of Norwich featuring Sheila Upjohn who has written a number of books about Blessed Julia. Clicking on the picture below will take you to pictures of the event.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Life's journey - Threads of a life #1 My not quite connectedness to Catherine de Hueck Doherty

Back in the 1970s, I was involved in anti-apartheid protests against the Springboks. That was where I first met Father Dick Buchhorn, National Chaplain of the YCW  - or, as he is known now, Richard Buchhorn. I was a young Mum living in Toowoomba with my husband two children - the third child arrived the following year. Richard introduced me to the American "Catholic Worker" and the imitative Australian journal, "The Catholic Worker" edited by Max Charlesworth.  Writer and commentator Niall Brennan who had an involvement in Christian communitarianism was a frequent contributor.  This was when I first heard of Dorothy Day, her spirituality and daring deeds in The Catholic Worker Movement.

A decade later I was immersed in the writings of Thomas Merton and William Johnston.

In reading of Thomas Merton as he sought to find a way to give expression to his God-given vocation, I recall coming across the story of Merton's friendship with Dorothy Day.  One night, in need of a bed, he put up at Dorothy Day's place.  However, Merton drew the short straw.  He had to sleep in Dorothy Day's bath tub because the only spare sleeping pace was occupied by Catherine De Hueck Doherty.

Catherine Doherty is noted for her book Christian Spirituality of the East for Western Man.  And we now switch to an Australian connection.  Back around the late 1990s when I was living in Sydney, I had a friend, a former Catholic priest. We went for a drive one day and finished up in the Goulburn area and he took me to a place which he used to visit.  We did not drop in to say hello but he just told me of his connection with this place.  The place was a former Catholic orphanage.

The story of Sue Gordon Woods is quite remarkable. She flew to Canada and met Catherine Doherty and experienced her spirituality at Madonna House.  This part of her story impresses me.  There was, it would seem, a clear sense of direction in the life of Sue at a young age.    Sue's story can be read in the Waterhole of Hope.  Here is the story of The House of Prayer - a community that was established in the old orphanage. At The House of Prayer, the community built a poustinia in the garden.

Fast forward from my Goulburn trip to 2009 and I am living in Melbourne.  I am a Quaker as well as an Anglican.  Many Quakers in Australia had longed for a study centre such as Woodbrooke in Britain and Pendle Hill in the USA. Eventually, the centre became a reality at Silver Wattle, near Bungendore in NSW which is only 45 minutes from the national capital, Canberra. 

Silver Wattle is the result of much dedication, hard work, and sacrifice from a small number of Friends.  I was the first cook at Silver Wattle.  The property belonged to the Catholic Church and had been inhabited by members of the House of Prayer community who were formerly at Goulburn.  Waterhole of Hope describes the difficulties that came upon the House of Prayer communities in later times at Goulburn.  The move to the property at Silver Wattle was planned as a transition as members of the community 'transitioned' from what once was.  As Quakers moved in, there were still members of the community residing at Silver Wattle.

I didn't know any of the House of Prayer connections until I was at Silver Wattle, met the remaining residents, and found Waterhole of Hope on the bookshelf.  And I had heard, rather vaguely, from other sources of what became of Sue Gordon Woods.  It is good to know that Sue's life goes on with a strong spirituality.  Her story continues at Campfire in the Heart near Alice Springs.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dorothy Day ... a Lenten life

We are marking Lent at the moment and trying to do all sorts of spiritual and good things.  But what if our lives were always filled with the Lenten spirit - simple living, helping others, praying constantly.  Something like Dorothy Day lived her life ...

A Life of Prayer featuring Julian of Norwich + Taize Prayer + Praying with the scriptures + Charismatic Prayer + Praying with icons + Healing through prayer + Spiritual direction

Ministry Development Committee  
"Water into Wine, Baptism to Mission"

A Life of Prayer


Dates & Venues

March 14 & 15 2014
St. Paul's Bakery Hill
5 Humffray Street South, Ballarat
August 1 & 2 2014
Christ Church Warrnambool
"Pray always and never lose heart" Luke 18:1
"We don't go to prayer to get something from God; we go to prayer to be like God." Cassian
"God is home, it's we who have gone for a walk." Meister Eckhart

Sheila Upjohn is the author of In Search of Julian of Norwich, All Shall Be Well and Why Julian Now? She also translated the extracts from Julian's book for the best-selling anthologies Enfolded In Love and In Love Enclosed. Like Julian, Sheila Upjohn is a Norwich woman, and for most of her life has lived in the city where Julian wrote her book. She now lives in Australia and is delighted to share with us her knowledge and enthusiasm for Julian.



5.30pm: Gathering, Introduction & Opening
The Very Revd. Chris Chataway
6.00pm: Life of Prayer and Praying with the Saints
Sheila Upjohn
This presentation provides an introduction to the weekend.

Participants will be invited to reflect on their understanding of prayer, their own life of prayer and the place it has in their lives. Prayer is foundational to spiritual life and growth and at the same time it is very personal. Each one of us needs to discover the forms of prayer which are most helpful and to be faithful to a discipline of prayer. Our preferred ways of praying will change during our life and the weekend offers an opportunity for participants to explore new ways of praying and to learn from holy men and women like Blessed Julian of Norwich. Her messages of God's unqualified love for us are as true and needed today as they were when she wrote them in the middle of the 14th century.

7.15: Pizza & Drinks
7.45pm - 8.30pm Taize Prayer
Fr. Constantine Osuchukwu & Rev. Catherine Tierney

Taize prayer is a contemplative style of prayer based on music and silence. Created by the Taize community in France it has been found to be a very attractive form of prayer for young people all over the world.


10.00am: Arrival and Morning Tea
10.30am - 11.30am: Julian of Norwich
Sheila Upjohn
11.30am - 12.10: Prayer workshops
Participants will be able to choose one of three workshops.
Workshop 1: Praying with Scriptures
Rev'd Dr. Tim Gaden
The traditional form of prayer known as Lectio Divina helps people to engage with the living word of Scripture. It allows the person the opportunity to hear this word three times in the voice of different people. The first time allows a person to water the earth of their lives, the second time allows that water to sink deep into the earth, and the third time recognises the small shoots that start to push up through the earth seeking light. This method of prayer allows a word or phrase to stay with you each day in a way which allows you to recognise how God is working in your life.

Workshop 2: Charismatic Prayer
Rev. Anne McKenna
"With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God" (Col 3:17).
Prayer is also about praise and joyful expression of our love for God. Rev. Anne will help us explore Charismatic prayer and its relevance for us today.
Workshop 3: Introduction to Christian Meditation
 Fr. Cliff Cheong
"Be still and know that I am God" (Ps 46:10)
12.15pm - 1.00pm: Holy Eucharist
1.10pm - 1.35pm: Lunch
1.45pm - 2.15pm: Prayer workshops
Participants will be able to choose one of three workshops.
Workshop 1: Praying with Icons
Rev. Robyn Schakell

Icons are written (written, not painted, because they are the Word of God) using traditional shapes and colours which help elucidate the theological mystery presented in the image and also help the viewer to be in a state conducive to prayer.

Workshop 2: Healing through Prayer
Fr. George Parker

For many years Fr George has witnessed to the healing power of Jesus Christ through the celebration of the Healing Mass. He will share his experiences with us and teach us more about faith in the healing power of the Sacraments and the power of God's healing touch to bring physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wholeness.

Workshop 3: Spiritual Direction/Accompaniment
Fr. Graham Snell

An introduction to the practice of spiritual accompaniment and direction, its brief history and a look at how it can help us deepen our inner lives and grow in our spiritual journey.

2.20pm - 2.45pm: Time to write one's own prayer
Followed by Feedback and Closing Prayer

RSVP / Enquiries:
03 5332 6479
If you would like to share the costs of running this weekend we suggest:
$10 waged, $5 unwaged
but if you can't share the costs,
please feel very welcome to come for free.


Introducing Julian of Norwich - woman of wisdom, mystic, author

Julian of Norwich Music

Free E-books by Julian of Norwich

Monday, March 10, 2014

To get the word around, please download and email or print the poster.



Sunset vista at The Nine Mile, Broken Hill.
Photo by Brigid O'Carroll Walsh

T.S. Eliot
In all my years, one this does not change.
However you disguise it, this thing does not change:
The perpetual struggle of Good and Evil.
Second, you neglect and belittle the desert.
The desert is not remote in the southern tropics.
The desert is not only around the corner,
The desert is squeezed in the tube-train next to you.
The desert is in the heart of your brother.
The Rock

The last temptation is the greatest treason, to do the right thing for the wrong reason.
Murder in the Cathedral 

Lent is a time of testing and trials, as well as of renewal, conversion, and grace.

In this first week of Lent, we are called to go into the desert within and face the perennial struggle between good and evil; light and darkeness; etc. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot - 'The desert is in our hearts'.
  1. We will always be tempted as Jesus was tempted.  He was tempted to abandon his chosen mission, to be powerful, and to rely not on God but on his status.  But Jesus said not to disobedience, pleasure, power and possession; and yes to love of God and service to others.  In an increasingly secular and materialistic world, we are often tempted to think that we don't need God.  Let us re-affirm our need for God to-day and turn to him in all we do and say.
  2. Our temptations may be different, but the reality is the same.  Allures other than the Christian way will prove seductive.  And sometimes our desires lead us into temptation.  What should we do?
  3. What are some of the temptations we often face?  How do we respond to them?  Do we choose God over pleasure, power and possessions?  Is God our greatest good?  Can we ask for the grace and strength to be faithful to God to-day, each day, every day?
Let us look into our hears this week and pray for the grace to face up to the perennial struggle between good and evil.  Let us pray for the courage to stand firm like Jesus during times of temptation so that we can choose God over pleasure, power and possessions.  On our own we can do nothing.  Enabled by God's grace we shall do bravely.

And so we pray ...
 Lord, you promise not to tempt us beyond what we can bear.
 Give us grace to-day when we face the struggle within and give us courage to overcome temptations and remain steadfast in our love for you and in our mission to bear witness to your love in our world.
Father Constantine Osuchukwu
Parish Priest,
Saint Paul's Anglican Church,
Bakery Hill, Ballarat


Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Ash Wednesday: a remembrance of who we really are and a prayer of repentance

There are two services at Saint Paul's, Humffray Street, Ballarat to-day for Ash Wednesday. I went to the 12 noon one and the next one is at 7pm.  My forehead is well-crossed with the ashes which are made by burning the crosses which are returned by parishioners from last year's palm crosses which mark Palm Sunday.

On Ash Wednesday, we are called not only to repentance.  We are called to remember, to be self-aware. 

If you wish to mark this special day in a brief and simple manner, below is a short Litany of Penitence.  The words are important - but more important is the spirit which is behind the individual's saying of the words.  This is heart and mind and spirit stuff that can change your life and how you live it.

A Litany of Penitence
Eternal God, maker of heaven and earth
Have mercy on us.Incarnate Word, redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.Abiding Spirit, give of light and life,
Have mercy on us.For turning away from y our presence,
For disobeying your word and commandments,
Forgive us, Lord.For trusting in our own strength instead of yours,
For betraying your trust and the trust of others,
Forgive us, Lord.For resisting your grace and refusing your blessings,
For holding back from proclaiming our faith in you,
Forgive us, Lord.For damaging this earth and exploiting its creatures,
For neglecting and wasting the gifts you have give us,
Forgive us, Lord.
For failing to forgive as we have been forgiven,
For judging others and bearing grudges,
Forgive us Lord.For skimping on our commitments and relationships,
For failing in hospitality,
Forgive us, Lord.For tolerating oppression, injustice, and wrong,
For keeping silent when we should have spoken up,
Forgive us, Lord.For turning away when others have offered us love,
For closing our hearts when others have needed compassion,
Forgive us, Lord.For all we have done unkindly, unjustly and dishonestly,
For our careless speech and hurtful words,
Forgive us Lord.